Appendix 3: Man Can Only Be Saved Amidst God’s Management
In the eyes of every person, God’s management is a very unfamiliar thing because people think of His management as being utterly removed from them. People think that God’s management is His work alone and that it only concerns Him—and so mankind is indifferent to His management. In this way, the salvation of mankind has become vague and indistinct, and is now nothing but empty rhetoric. Although man follows God in order to receive salvation and enter the wonderful destination, he has no concern for how God conducts His work. Man cares not for what God has planned, nor for the part he must play in order to be saved. This is truly tragic. Man’s salvation cannot be separated from God’s management nor disassociated from His plan. Yet man thinks nothing of the management of God, and thus grows ever more distant from Him. This has caused increasing numbers of people who are completely unaware of issues closely related to the question of salvation—such as what creation is, what belief in God is, how to worship God, and so on—to join the ranks of His followers. Hence, we must now discuss God’s management so that each of His followers clearly understands what it means to follow and believe in Him. Doing so will help each person more accurately choose the path they should tread, rather than following God merely to gain blessings, or avoid disasters, or stand out among others.
Although God’s management is profound, it is not beyond man’s comprehension. This is because all of God’s work is connected to His management and His work to save mankind, and concerns the life, living, and destination of mankind. The work that God does among and on man is, it can be said, very practical and meaningful. It can be seen and experienced by man, and it is far from something abstract. If man is incapable of accepting all the work that God does, then what is the significance of His work? And how can such management lead to man’s salvation? Many who follow God are only concerned with how to gain blessings or stave off disaster. As soon as God’s work and management are mentioned, they fall silent and lose all interest. They think that understanding such tedious issues will not help their lives to grow or provide any benefit. Consequently, although they have heard about God’s management, they pay it little heed. They do not see it as something precious to be accepted, much less do they receive it as part of their lives. Such people only have one simple aim in following God, and that aim is to receive blessings. Such people cannot be bothered to pay heed to anything else that does not directly involve this aim. To them, there is no goal more legitimate than believing in God to receive blessings—it is the very value of their faith. If something does not contribute to this aim, they remain completely unmoved by it. This is the case with most people who believe in God today. Their aim and intention seem legitimate, because as they believe in God, they also expend for God, dedicate themselves to God, and perform their duty. They give up their youth, forsake family and career, and even spend years away from home busying themselves. For the sake of their ultimate goal, they change their own interests, their outlook on life, and even the direction they seek; yet they cannot change the aim of their belief in God. They run about for the management of their own ideals; no matter how far the road is, and no matter how many hardships and obstacles there are along the way, they remain persistent and unafraid of death. What power compels them to continue dedicating themselves in this way? Is it their conscience? Is it their great and noble character? Is it their determination to battle the forces of evil to the very end? Is it their faith to bear witness to God without seeking reward? Is it their loyalty in being willing to give up everything to achieve God’s will? Or is it their spirit of devotion to always forgo extravagant personal demands? For someone who has never understood the work of God’s management to still give so much is, quite simply, a miracle! For the moment, let us not discuss how much these people have given. Their behavior, however, is highly worthy of our analysis. Apart from the benefits that are so closely associated with them, could there be any other reasons why people who never understand God would give so much for Him? In this, we discover a previously unidentified problem: Man’s relationship with God is merely one of naked self-interest. It is a relationship between a receiver and a giver of blessings. To put it plainly, it is akin to the relationship between employee and employer. The employee works only to receive the rewards bestowed by the employer. There is no affection in such a relationship, only transaction. There is no loving or being loved, only charity and mercy. There is no understanding, only suppressed indignation and deception. There is no intimacy, only an uncrossable chasm. Now that things have gotten to this point, who can reverse such a course? And how many people are capable of truly understanding how dire this relationship has become? I believe that when people immerse themselves in the joy of being blessed, none can imagine how embarrassing and unsightly such a relationship with God is.
The saddest thing about mankind’s belief in God is that man conducts his own management amidst the work of God and yet pays no heed to God’s management. Man’s biggest failure lies in how, at the same time as seeking to submit to God and worship Him, man is constructing his own ideal destination and plotting how to receive the greatest blessing and the best destination. Even if one understands how pitiable, detestable, and pathetic they are, how many can readily abandon their ideals and hopes? And who are able to halt their own steps and stop from thinking only of themselves? God needs those who will cooperate closely with Him to complete His management. He needs those who will submit to Him by devoting their entire mind and body to the work of His management. He does not need people who hold out their hands to beg from Him every day, much less those who give a little and then wait to be rewarded. God despises those who make a paltry contribution and then rest on their laurels. He hates those cold-blooded people who resent the work of His management and only want to talk about going to heaven and gaining blessings. He has an even greater loathing for those who take advantage of the opportunity presented by the work He does in saving mankind. That’s because these people have never cared about what God wishes to achieve and acquire through the work of His management. They are only concerned with how they can use the opportunity provided by the work of God to gain blessings. They care not about God’s heart, being wholly preoccupied with their own prospects and fate. Those who resent the work of God’s management and lack even the slightest interest in how God saves mankind and His will are only doing what pleases themselves in a way that is detached from the work of God’s management. Their behavior is neither remembered nor approved of by God—much less is it favorably looked upon by God.
In the vastness of the cosmos and the firmament, countless creatures live and reproduce, follow the cyclical law of life, and adhere to one constant rule. Those who die take with them the stories of the living, and those who are living repeat the same tragic history of those who have perished. And so, mankind cannot help but ask himself: Why do we live? And why do we have to die? Who commands this world? And who created this mankind? Was mankind really created by Mother Nature? Is mankind really in control of his own fate? … These are the questions mankind has asked ceaselessly for thousands of years. Unfortunately, the more that man has become obsessed with these questions, the more of a thirst he has developed for science. Science offers brief gratification and temporary enjoyment of the flesh, but is far from sufficient to free man from the solitariness, loneliness, and barely-concealed terror and helplessness deep within his soul. Mankind merely uses scientific knowledge that he can see with his naked eye and understand with his brain in order to anesthetize his heart. Yet such scientific knowledge is not enough to stop mankind from exploring mysteries. Mankind simply does not know who the Sovereign of the universe and all things is, much less the beginning and future of mankind. Mankind merely lives, perforce, amidst this law. None can escape it and none can change it, for among all things and in the heavens there is but One from everlasting to everlasting who holds sovereignty over everything. He is the One who has never been beheld by man, the One whom mankind has never known, in whose existence mankind has never believed—yet He is the One who blew the breath into mankind’s ancestors and gave life to mankind. He is the One who provides and nourishes mankind, allowing him to exist; and He is the One who has guided mankind up to the present day. Moreover, He and He alone is the One mankind depends on for survival. He holds sovereignty over all things and rules all living beings in the universe. He commands the four seasons, and it is He who calls forth wind, frost, snow, and rain. He brings mankind sunshine and ushers in the night. It was He who laid out the heavens and earth, providing man with the mountains, lakes, and rivers and all of the living things within them. His deeds are omnipresent, His power is omnipresent, His wisdom is omnipresent, and His authority is omnipresent. Each of these laws and rules is the embodiment of His deeds, and each one reveals His wisdom and authority. Who can exempt themselves from His sovereignty? And who can discharge themselves from His designs? All things exist beneath His gaze, and moreover, all things live under His sovereignty. His deeds and His power leave mankind with no choice but to acknowledge the fact that He really does exist and holds sovereignty over all things. Nothing apart from Him can command the universe, much less endlessly provide for this mankind. Regardless of whether you are able to recognize God’s deeds, and regardless of whether you believe in the existence of God, there is no doubt that your fate is determined by God, and there is no doubt that God will always hold sovereignty over all things. His existence and authority are not predicated upon whether or not they are recognized and comprehended by man. Only He knows man’s past, present, and future, and only He can determine the fate of mankind. Regardless of whether you are able to accept this fact, it will not be long before mankind witnesses all of this with his own eyes, and this is the fact that God will soon bring to bear. Mankind lives and dies under the eyes of God. Man lives for the management of God, and when his eyes close for the final time, it is for this management that they close as well. Man comes and goes over and over again, back and forth. Without exception, it is all part of God’s sovereignty and His design. God’s management has never ceased; it is perpetually advancing. He will make mankind aware of His existence, trust in His sovereignty, behold His deeds, and return to His kingdom. This is His plan, and the work that He has been managing for thousands of years.
The work of God’s management began at the creation of the world, and man is at the core of this work. God’s creation of all things, it can be said, is for the sake of man. Because the work of His management spans thousands of years and is not done in the space of mere minutes or seconds, or in the blink of an eye, or one or two years, He had to create more things necessary for mankind’s survival, such as the sun, the moon, all sorts of living creatures, food, and a hospitable environment. This was the start of God’s management.
After that, God handed mankind over to Satan, and man lived under the domain of Satan, which gradually led to God’s work of the first age: the story of the Age of Law…. Over several thousand years during the Age of Law, mankind became accustomed to the guidance of the Age of Law and took it for granted. Gradually, man left the care of God. And so, while following the law, they also worshiped idols and performed evil deeds. They were without the protection of Jehovah, and merely lived their lives before the altar in the temple. In fact, the work of God had left them long ago, and even though the Israelites still stuck to the law, and spoke the name of Jehovah, and even proudly believed that only they were the people of Jehovah and were the chosen ones of Jehovah, the glory of God quietly abandoned them …
When God does His work, He always quietly leaves one place and softly carries out the new work He begins in another place. This seems incredible to people, who are benumbed. People have always treasured the old and regarded new, unfamiliar things with enmity or seen them as a nuisance. And so, whatever new work God does, from the start to the very end, man is the last, among all things, to know of it.
As has always been the case, after the work of Jehovah in the Age of Law, God began His new work of the second stage: assuming the flesh—being incarnated as man for ten, twenty years—and speaking and doing His work among believers. Yet without exception, no one knew it, and only a small number of people acknowledged that He was God become flesh after the Lord Jesus was nailed to the cross and resurrected. Problematically, there appeared one called Paul, who set himself in mortal enmity to God. Even after he was struck down and became an apostle, Paul did not change his old nature, and he continued to walk the path of opposition to God. During the time he worked, Paul wrote many epistles; unfortunately, later generations savored his epistles as the words of God, and they were even included in the New Testament and confused with the words spoken by God. This has been an utter disgrace since the advent of Scripture! And was not this mistake committed due to the extreme foolishness of man? Little did they know that, in the records of God’s work in the Age of Grace, epistles or spiritual writings of man simply should not be there to impersonate the work and words of God. But this is beside the point, so let’s return to our original topic. As soon as the second stage of God’s work was completed—after the crucifixion—God’s work of recovering man from sin (which is to say, recovering man from the hands of Satan) was accomplished. And so, from that moment onward, mankind had only to accept the Lord Jesus as the Savior, and his sins would be forgiven. Nominally speaking, the sins of man were no longer a barrier to his achieving salvation and coming before God, and were no longer the leverage by which Satan accused man. That is because God Himself had done real work, had become the likeness and foretaste of sinful flesh, and God Himself was the sin offering. In this way, man descended from the cross, and was redeemed and saved through the flesh of God—the likeness of this sinful flesh. And so, after having been taken captive by Satan, man came one step closer to accepting His salvation before God. Of course, this stage of work was deeper and more developed than God’s management during the Age of Law.
Such is the management of God: to hand mankind over to Satan—a mankind that does not know what God is, what the Creator is, how to worship God, or why it is necessary to submit to God—and allow Satan to corrupt him. Step by step, God then recovers man from the hands of Satan, until man fully worships God and rejects Satan. This is God’s management. This may sound like a mythical tale, and it may seem perplexing. People feel like this is a mythical story because they have no inkling of how much has happened to man over the past several thousand years, much less do they know how many stories have occurred in the cosmos and the firmament. And furthermore, that is because they cannot appreciate the more astonishing, more fear-inducing world that exists beyond the material world, but which their mortal eyes prevent them from seeing. It feels incomprehensible to man because man has no understanding of the significance of God’s salvation of mankind or the significance of the work of His management, and does not comprehend how God ultimately wishes mankind to be. Is it to be utterly uncorrupted by Satan, like Adam and Eve were? No! The purpose of God’s management is to gain a group of people who worship God and submit to Him. Although these people have been corrupted by Satan, they no longer see Satan as their father; they recognize the repulsive face of Satan and reject it, and they come before God to accept God’s judgment and chastisement. They come to know what is ugly and how it contrasts with that which is holy, and to recognize the greatness of God and the evil of Satan. A mankind such as this will no longer work for Satan, or worship Satan, or enshrine Satan. This is because they are a group of people who have truly been gained by God. This is the significance of God’s work of managing mankind. During the work of God’s management of this time, mankind is the object both of Satan’s corruption and God’s salvation, and man is the product that God and Satan are fighting over. As God performs His work, He is gradually recovering man from the hands of Satan, and so man comes ever closer to God …
And then came the Age of Kingdom, which is a more practical stage of work, and yet which is also the hardest for man to accept. That is because the closer that man comes to God, the nearer God’s rod approaches man, and the more clearly God’s face is revealed to man. Following the redemption of mankind, man officially returns to the family of God. Man thought that now was the time for enjoyment, yet he is subjected to a full-frontal assault by God, the likes of which no one could have ever foreseen: As it turns out, this is a baptism that the people of God have to “enjoy.” Under such treatment, people have no choice but to stop and think to themselves, “I am the lamb lost for many years that God spent so much to buy back, so why does God treat me like this? Is it God’s way of laughing at me, and revealing me? …” After years have passed, man has become weather-beaten, having experienced the hardship of refinement and chastisement. Although man has lost the “glory” and “romance” of times past, he has, without knowing it, come to understand the principles of human conduct, and has come to appreciate God’s years of devotion to saving mankind. Man slowly begins to loathe his own barbarousness. He begins to hate how feral he is, all of his misunderstandings toward God, and the unreasonable demands he has made of Him. The clock cannot be turned back. Past events become regretful memories of man, and the words and love of God become the driving force in man’s new life. Man’s wounds heal day by day, his strength returns, and he stands up and looks upon the face of the Almighty … only to discover that He has always been at my side, and that His smile and His beautiful countenance are still so stirring. His heart still holds concern for the mankind He created, and His hands are still as warm and powerful as they were in the beginning. It is as if man returned to the Garden of Eden, yet this time man no longer listens to the enticements of the serpent and no longer turns away from the face of Jehovah. Man kneels before God, looks up at God’s smiling face, and offers his most precious sacrifice—Oh! My Lord, my God!
The love and compassion of God permeates each and every detail of the work of His management, and regardless of whether people are able to understand God’s good intentions, He is still tirelessly doing the work He set out to accomplish. Irrespective of how much people understand about God’s management, the help and the benefits brought to man by God’s work can be appreciated by everyone. Perhaps, on this day, you have not felt any of the love or life provided by God, but as long as you do not abandon God and do not give up on your determination to pursue the truth, there will come a day when God’s smile will be revealed to you. For the aim of the work of God’s management is to recover the people who are under the domain of Satan, not to abandon the people who have been corrupted by Satan and oppose God.
September 23, 2005